Houston County superintendent gets low grade in board’s review

Houston County superintendent gets low grade in board’s review
Houston County School Board Pic

DOTHA, Ala. (WSFA) - The results from Houston County School’s superintendent evaluation are now public and they show concerns about meeting expectations. Board members completed the survey in July and the results are just being released.

The board is required to perform a superintendent evaluation based on board policy. The survey, conducted by the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB), asked questions about personnel management, communication skills, and leadership effectiveness.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your day to day roles? How we feel they communicate, perform in those roles. It’s a standard survey that most employees will see,” said Vince Wade.

The rankings are based on a 1-5 scale. One is “unsatisfactory”, two means “needs improvement”, three means “meets expectations”, four is “exceeds expectations”, and five “demonstrates excellence”.

Superintendent David Sewell got an overall score of 2.4 out of 5. The “Board Member” questions on the survey focused specifically on 10 key areas.

Area One: “CEO of the School Board” - which asked questions about implementation of school board policies, state regulations, and the ability to make recommendations of appropriate actions for personnel. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.5. His lowest average score was a 1.7.

Area Two: “Educational Leadership of the Schools” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to work collaboratively to discuss and implement system goals for student achievement. Sewell’s highest average score was 2.7 and his lowest average score was 1.8.

Area Three: “Personnel Management” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to retain employees, develop organization structure for the system, and develop personnel policies. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.5 and his lowest average score was a 1.8.

Area Four: “Community Relations” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to develop plans for community outreach and engage in community relations. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.8 and his lowest average score was a 2.3.

Area Five: “Management of Pupil Personnel Services” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to ensure safety of students and employees, and serves as a liaison between schools and the local government. Sewell’s highest average score was a 3.0 and his lowest average score was a 2.3.

Area Six: “Communication and Interpersonal Skills” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to effectively communicate, build relationships, and consistently perform those duties. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.5 and his lowest average score was a 1.8.

Area Seven: “Professional Development and Leadership” - which asked questions about performing required duties in an effective manner and providing accurate information to the board and other agencies requested. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.7 and his lowest average score was a 1.8.

Area Eight: “Technology Management” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to integrate, promote, and use technology successfully with the system. Sewell’s highest average score was a 3.2 and his lowest average score was a 2.8.

Area Nine: “Facilities Management” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to ensure the safety of personnel and property, monitors construction and renovation, and prepares plans for facilities. Sewell’s highest average score was a 3.2 and his lowest average score was a 2.5.

Area Ten: “Financial Management” - which asked questions about the superintendent’s ability to maintain a healthy budget, seek necessary funding, and ensure financial compliance with state and federal policies. Sewell’s highest average score was a 2.8 and his lowest average score was 2.7

School board members also answered additional questions that were not included in the 10 key areas regarding Sewell’s performance. That “Direct Report” averaged a 3 score.

Six of the seven board members completed the survey.

“We had one board member who didn’t complete and six with mixes with these answers,” said board member Gary Cox. “It wasn’t one board member or two board members with an agenda.”

This is Sewell’s third year as superintendent. The board says this year’s ratings are consistent with last year’s ratings, which was the first year the board completed the AASB survey.

The board cited the biggest concern that was highlighted in the survey for them was communication.

While the results of the survey were low, Board Chairman Vince Wade said this was not an effort to push the superintendent out, but a building block.

“What we’ve got to do is collaborate and we’ve got to come together and talk. We’re a team. We can’t do this individually, and it’s nothing we can’t move past. We just need to build upon it. That’s the whole purpose of the evaluation,” said Wade.

Wade also said the timing of the results brought questions about division in light of the recent malware attack that caused a school start delay. He says the result release was on a date requested by the superintendent.

Supt. Sewell was unable to meet Thursday for an interview due to an emergency, but is set to discuss his reaction in an interview Friday morning.

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